Niger Delta can't breathe due to National Assembly's stranglehold — UNDEDSS

…says persons in Executive, Legislature may be complicit

…reminds President his anti-corruption fight mere joke if fraud in commission is not exposed

By Levinus Nwabughiogu

To wholly unearth the alleged infractions in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, a group known as Network for Best Practice and Integrity in Leadership, NEBPRIL has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to set up an independent judicial panel with prosecution powers to probe all suspected persons.

Also read: Reps issue warrant of arrest on NDDC Boss, Kemebradikumo Pondei

The group said that the accusations and counter-accusations trading between the members of the Interim Management Committee, IMC of the NDDC and some members of the National Assembly indicated that many people had been compromised in the financial misdeeds.

In a statement signed by the director of investigations, Dr Aminu Idris and made available to Journalists in Abuja on Sunday, NEBPRIL said that except the President investigates the matter himself, his anti-corruption fight would be described as a mere joke.

The group added that the President may unwittingly be encouraging fraudulent individuals among the political class to continue to see the NDDC and perhaps, the newly established North East Development Commission (NEDC) and other such regional intervention agencies as plundering grounds to satisfy their avarice if the current situation was not exposed and arrested.

The statement read in parts: “We have in the past months, watched in disbelief and grave concern, the embarrassing developments in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), since your second term in office as President of our great nation. While we appreciate the steps already taken by Mr President to address the matter, as an Organisation with the pivotal objective for transparency, best practice and integrity in public service, we are compelled to call upon Your Excellency, to go beyond the mere statement, and take decisive judicial steps to end this unfortunate circus of sleaze in NDDC.

“The information in the public domain makes it difficult for any keen observer of the sordid development in the commission to exonerate any of the parties involved in this unfolding national scandal, hence the urgent need for Mr President, to in a more personal and authoritative manner, take more practical and cogent actions that will comprehensively address the monumental corruption and abject mismanagement of NDDC, in order to not only save the nation of further embarrassment but also protect the integrity of your administration, noted for an anti-corruption crusade.

“The ugly revelations coming from different players in the NDDC, make us conclude that unless you take decisive action in getting to the roots of the mind-blowing infractions and brazen corruption in this important intervention agency, all the efforts of your government in fighting corruption would not only be reduced to a ridiculous joke but also a bad example of how to defeat corruption.

“Public perception in the nation at the moment is strong with the view that many among the accusers and the accused in the current NDDC scandal are most likely, unfortunately, compromised.

“The accusation and counter-accusations by past and current management of the commission, members of the National Assembly and the Niger Delta Ministry, (who are tasked with oversight of NDDC) over allegations of heartless plundering of the commonwealth of the horrendously devastated oil-producing region, point to one disturbing fact: the mismanagement of NDDC is a collective indictment on both the legislative and executive arms of government, influential politicians and the system that enables such brazen corruption.

“Flowing from the above premise, and in order to ensure public trust and integrity of the process of the probe and eventual outcome, we urge Mr. President to urgently put in place a professional, independent investigative panel that will uncompromisingly assist him in unearthing the truth and end this macabre soap opera and save the people of further agony.

“Note, Mr. President, that unless you take urgent, meaningful decisive action now, by putting in place a judicial investigative panel with the powers to not only indict, when found culpable but also prosecute and bring to justice, those that are guilty of defrauding the nation through NDDC, whether they are in the legislature or executive, you may unwittingly be encouraging fraudulent individuals among the political class to continue to see the NDDC and perhaps, the newly established North East Development Commission (NEDC) and other such regional intervention agencies as plundering grounds to satisfy their avarice.

“But from our research and on the spot assessment, which we carried out on the state of affairs in the region, it is obvious that successive managements of the commission, supervising authorities and those constitutionally empowered with oversight of the agency, are seemingly more interested in the unholy bazaar of contract racketeering, leading to humongous frauds, rather than the interest and development of the region. The allegations flying around since the current probe of the commission vindicate our position and call to question the integrity of those entrusted with the management of the agency – past and current – and the will of the federal government to ensure that the objectives of the commission are not derailed.

“In the past year, for instance, three Managing Directors have been appointed in NDDC. Such instability is symptomatic of a troubled Organisation. And a potential inhibition for meaningful, independent management that would be loyal only to the objectives for setting up the commission.

“We call on Mr President to do the needful, and urgently too, to save the nation, especially the hapless people of the Niger Delta of the trauma of watching the political class squander the money meant for the development of the region.”

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